Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

I know it’s a normal part of growing up with siblings, and that having a sibling to play, fight, and make up with is a healthy thing, proven to lead to more conflict-resolution-oriented adults, but really, isn’t there an easier way? I love it when my girls are laughing together, playing their cute little games of hide and seek or running from imaginary monsters or building forts out of couch cushions. The sound of their laughter together is truly the best sound I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, the laughter only lasts so long. Then there is a tug-of-war over some toy, or hitting and pushing over one refusing to accept the role the other has assigned her. The other day I pulled them off each other, lying head-to-toe, kicking each other in the head. Neither one could remember what the fight was even about. I locked them both in their rooms, with gates in place to keep them there, and went downstairs to finish making their lunch. Within minutes they were laughing again, straining to reach each other across their gates, singing songs at the tops of their lungs, jumping up and down, and begging to be reunited.

Yesterday they got into a scuffle over both needing to play with the same toy horse (ignoring the other nine toy horses that lay scattered around them), and after each had pushed, then punched, the other one, they both got time outs. But they couldn’t manage to stay in their time-out chairs, and kept running across the room to each other to whisper silly things to make the other one laugh. So I tried a different tactic. I made them sit in the same time-out chair, with their arms wrapped around each other in a hug, and they had to kiss each other five times before they could get up. They were laughing hysterically after three kisses, and ran off best friends again.

I don’t remember my sister and I fighting so much as kids, but I also don’t remember playing with her much, either. We usually did our own things, in separate rooms. So maybe the problem is that my girls are too close, and refuse to play separately. I’ve tried using doors, gates, and harsh language to get them to play separately when it seems they can’t get along, but that just makes them more upset than fighting with each other. One time I asked String Bean why they can’t play nicely all the time, and she put her hands on her hips, gave me one of those exasperated sighs, and said, “We are playing nicely. Then we fight. Then we play again.” So maybe I’m the only one with a problem here, and they’re fine with the terms of their relationship.

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